Free Oscar López Rivera: One of The Longest Held Political Prisoners in the World


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A unity march to free Oscar López Rivera is scheduled for this Saturday, November 23 in New York City. López Rivera is a Puerto Rican independence fighter that has been jailed for 32 years. He is said to be “among the longest held political prisoners in the history of Puerto Rico and in the world.”

In 1981, López Rivera was charged with “seditious conspiracy” in connection with his involvement in the Armed Forces of National Liberation (or FALN), a Puerto Rican separatist group that claimed responsibility for a series of bombings. He was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

According to former U.S. President Bill Clinton, the sentences received by López Rivera and the other Nationalists were judged to be “out of proportion to the nationalists’ offenses.”

López Rivera’s imprisonment has been protested this year in Puerto Rico and U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez recently told WNPR News that it’s time to release López Rivera.

This Saturday’s march begins at 11AM  at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side and will end at the Continental Army Plaza in Brooklyn. The march is being organized by the Community Coalition for the Freedom of Oscar López Rivera. For more information email virtualboricua(at)

Feel free to share this blog post widely and “Like” the Free Oscar López Rivera Now Facebook Page.


Startups of Puerto Rico Showcase – Tuesday, October 15th in New York City

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Are you interested in knowing more about the startup community in Puerto Rico? If so, you can’t miss the Puerto Rico Startup Showcase scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, 2013 in New York City. Representatives of six early-stage startups from Puerto Rico will pitch investors, advisors and entrepreneurs from the New York community at the event hosted by Microsoft.

The evening session begins at 6pm and runs through 9:30pm with a social event to follow hosted by Fans & Friends of Startups of Puerto Rico.

Startups of Puerto Rico is a entrepreneurial factory generating founders of technology-based firms based in Puerto Rico. Through its community activities, Startups of Puerto Rico is defining an economic development paradigm based on leveraging the unique passion and genius of the Puerto Rican people.

In addition to Microsoft, other sponsors of the October 15th event include Latingenious, the Founder Institute, the Latino Startup Alliance, Piloto 151, Paranda, and Clearshore.



Thompson on Tuesday: My Take On The Crazy NYC 2013 Race For Mayor

As a Native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent and a life-long Democrat, I was undecided about my choice for mayor in the Democratic primary race until yesterday.  I considered several of the Democratic nominees for mayor, but had to narrow it down to my top three: Christine Quinn, Bill De Blasio, and Bill Thompson. (In full disclosure,  I once donated $25 to Quinn’s campaign.)

As of the posting of this entry, the polls show De Blasio suddenly leading the Democratic pack and there’s some chatter that he might win the Democratic nomination without the expected run-off. We’ll see how it all plays out in five days.

I voted for Bill Thompson in 2009 against Michael Bloomberg. Since I was torn between three candidates this year, I decided to go again with Thompson on Tuesday. He barely lost to the billionaire Bloomberg in 2009 and I believe Thompson deserves another shot at being the mayor of New York City.

I considered supporting Christine Quinn as the first female and the first lesbian mayor, but I just could not get passed the fact that in 2008 she was on team Bloomberg and helped him extend term limits allowing him three terms as mayor. I also seriously considered De Blasio because I think he is the most progressive Democrat in the race and I like his multicultural family. If De Blasio wins the race outright I won’t be extremely disappointed.

However, I’ll be voting for Thompson on Tuesday and wish him all the best.

The general election might be an entirely different story because as a Latino I’ll definitely consider Adolfo Carrion, the former Bronx Borough President, who is running for mayor as an Independent. I’ve always voted on the Democratic line but it might be tough not voting for a fellow Puerto Rican in the general election in November. However, voting for Carrion in the general election might help whomever the Republican candidate might be. I’ll worry about that in November.

For now, go Thompson!


Timbo Gonzalez Wins 2013 Reb Bull Slaps Handball Tournament

Timbo Gonzalez (foreground), Geo Vasquez (background.)

Timbo Gonzalez (foreground), Geo Vasquez (background.)

Timbo Gonzalez, one of the top ranked handball players in the world, won the 2013 Red Bull Slaps this past weekend at the legendary Coney Island handball courts on Surf Avenue and West 5th Street in New York City. Gonzalez, who won the first annual Red Bull Slaps three years ago, defeated defending champion Geo Vasquez in the big blue division.

Red Bull Slaps is a one-on-one street handball tournament that brings together New York City’s best handball players to compete for prizes and bragging rights in the small ball, big blue and pump ball divisions. The invite-only tournament brings 96 of handball’s top players from across the five boroughs to compete for cash prizes and ultimate NYC bragging rights.

Hosted by New York handball legend John “Rookie” Wright, the one-day event was held Saturday, June 8.  The tournament is a single elimination format with no player rankings. All players are put into a random draw to determine brackets and match-ups.

2013 Red Bull Slaps, Coney Island, NY. June 8, 2013.

2013 Red Bull Slaps, Coney Island, NY. June 8, 2013.

Gonzalez, a Puerto Rican who was born in the East New York section of Brooklyn and raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, was excited at the opportunity to regain the Red Bull Slaps title. He started playing handball when he was 8 years old and began to take the sport seriously when he became 15. Gonzalez was attracted to the competitiveness of the sport, which his parents also played.

“My parents would bring me along on tournaments,” said Timbo. “It wasn’t just a game that was played in the park, it was bigger than that.”

Gonzalez, who is 21 years-old and presently lives in Bushwick, Brooklyn, learned about the Red Bull handball tournament through word-of-mouth. He’s passionate about the game and should continue to be a strong advocate for the sport for many years to come.


LATINAS THINK BIG – The Official Launch of the ELLA Leadership Institute

The ELLA Leadership Institute launch event at Barnard College, May 16, 2013.

The ELLA Leadership Institute launch event at Barnard College, May 16, 2013.

The ELLA Leadership Institute officially launched last Thursday, May 16, at an empowering event at Barnard College at Columbia University. The LATINAS THINK BIG event was attended by over 200 participants and was live streamed by Google.

ELLA Leadership Institute is a professional development center that offers strategic and tailored training, consulting, and mentoring programs to women seeking career and leadership success.

“Latinas are the fastest growing female population in this country,” said ELLA Leadership Institute Founder and CEO Dr. Angélica Pérez-Litwin, “and yet only 0.3% of Fortune 500 corporate executives are Latinas. Similar rates of invisibility are found in academia, in the political arena, and the non-profit sector. This is not acceptable.”

Dr. Angélica Pérez-Litwin, who earned her PhD. in clinical psychology from Fordham University, has devoted more than 20 years of her professional career to the empowerment, well-being, and success of Latinas. As the publisher of NEW LATINA, Dr. Pérez-Litwin has greatly contributed to a new digital conversation focusing on issues that matter to today’s career-driven and progressive Latinas.

“The reality is a large majority of professional Latinas are pioneers,” Dr. Pérez-Litwin said during her talk at the LATINAS THINK BIG event. “Many of them are first generation Latinas in corporate America, in academia, in politics, in the careers of science, technology, and engineering. As they enter these professional-themed arenas they are navigating new spaces and don’t have the necessary support and guidance to achieve career success.”

Dr. Pérez-Litwin has already inspired countless Latinas, including members of Mujeres, the Latina-based student organization at Barnard College. Tatiana Vera, who works at the Student Life Center at Barnard and is the president of Mujeres, is honored to have Dr. Pérez-Litwin as her personal mentor.

“When she called herself my mentor I was through the roof,” said Vera. “Everything that she’s done I completely respect. I want to be a clinical psychologist as well. She’s the CEO of her own company and has her own practice. How more boss can you be for a woman?”

Corina Velazquez, a spoken word artist and dancer who is also a member of Mujeres, thinks of herself as an important piece in changing the world mainly because of Dr. Pérez-Litwin.

“The first time I met Dr. Angélica Pérez I was blown away,” Velazquez said. “She changed my view about working and my own aspirations as well. She really instilled this idea of the Latina not only working for her family but also working for herself. She instilled the idea that we can have it all and be economically sound as well.”


Ale Hop and Astroboyz Perform and Amaze at the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy’s Nanobot Event

The 2013 events sponsored by the Red Bull Music Academy are still going on through May 31 in New York City. Thanks to the wonderful staff at Majestic Relations, I was able to catch the Nanobot Picket Line show Monday night at the Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The amount of musical talent I witnessed that evening was of the highest caliber. I joined a wonderfully social crowd of music lovers at the hip and friendly venue to enjoy some awesome tunes and meet some incredible artists.

Musician Ale Hop, from Lima, Peru, performs at the RBMA Nanobot Picket Line event, Mon. May 6, 2013.

Musician Ale Hop, from Lima, Peru, performs at the RBMA Nanobot Picket Line event in Brooklyn.  (Mon. May 6, 2013.)

Ale Hop, a quiet, shy, and soft-spoken young woman from Lima, Peru making her first trip to the United States, became an entirely different person during her performance. The confidence she expressed on stage was captivating and fused well with her amazing command of her electric guitar and electronic beats.

Ale Hop has been part of an indie pop group called Las Amigas de Nadie since 2008 but wanted to introduce people to another side of her personality.

“Las Amigas de Nadie is more happy, more pop,” described Ale Hop. “This other side of me expresses the energy I have and the need for me to make noise, to play a little louder.”

Ale Hop is enjoying her time in New York and is making a lot of contacts and definitely wants to come back.

“The music scene here is crazy and very different from Lima,” said Ale Hop. “There is a lot going on here.”

Astroboyz, from Barcelona, Spain, playing his music at the Red Bull Music Academy's Nanobot Picket Line event in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. (Mon. May 6, 2013.)

Astroboyz, from Barcelona, Spain, playing his music at the RBMA Nanobot event in NYC. (Mon. May 6, 2013.)

Similar to Ale Hop, Astroboyz from Barcelona, Spain, also made his first trip to the U.S to participate in this year’s Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA.) He knew he was going to be a musician when he was 15 years old and got his start as a guitarist in a punk-rock band and later a drummer in a different band. Then around 2007 he took a course in sound engineering and found electronic music fascinating. Soon after, Astroboyz was born.

“It’s very difficult to describe my music,” said Astroboyz. “Because I don’t create just one style, I work with multiple styles of music. Sometimes I know what the end will sound like and sometimes I feel comfortable not knowing what it will end up sounding like.”

Astroboyz plays the club scene in Barcelona and performs at many parties, galleries, and music festivals, which are very popular in Spain. He will be in New York City for the entire month of May and hopes to see more of the city after the middle of the month when his lectures at the RBMA end.

Astroboyz’s music reminded me of the deep house music the clubs in NYC used to play in the past. He told me he was influenced by house music but tries to put his own spin on that style of music.

Thanks to the RBMA, both Ale Hop and Astroboyz had an excellent opportunity to showcase their music in front of a New York audience. It was a pleasure making their acquaintance and experiencing their astounding talent.


2013 Red Bull Music Academy Presents Ale Hop at Nanobot Picket Line

nanobotThe international music community is about to gather in New York for an incredible series of events. The Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA,) one of the biggest series of music-related events to be held in New York City, begins on Sunday, April 28 and runs through Friday, May 31, 2013. The RBMA kicked off in Berlin in 1998 as a DJ event but has expanded over the years to accommodate all genres and aspects of the musical spectrum.

This year’s five-week musical extravaganza consists of 37 events at 34 venues and includes over 230 artists from 35 countries. The annual international series brings together up and coming producers, singers, arrangers, DJs and musicians and provides them an opportunity to learn from top industry professionals. This series of events includes a conversation with Erykah Badu at the Brooklyn Museum and improvisations with jazz, rock and hip-hop figures like James Chance and Questlove of The Roots.

Tickets for events spanning genres from Afro/Latin/World to Techno are available online (act now because some events are already sold-out.)

A premier show at this year’s RBMA is Nanobot Picket Line, scheduled for Monday, May 6 from 9pm to 4am at the Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tickets are $8 and participants must be 21 and over.

One of the few female artists to participate at the Nanobot Picket Line event is Latina artist Ale Hop. She is also known as Alejandra Cárdenas and is a member of the Peruvian group Las Amigas de Nadie. You can listen to her own music on SoundCloud. Ale Hop is excited about her upcoming New York City appearance, according to a Spanish-language Red Bull site in Peru.

To learn more about the RBMA, check out this article by the New York Times.

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